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Colombia: protecting children during a human rights crisis

October 2014

Buenaventura, the main port city in Colombia, has become an incredibly violent place where people’s rights are violated every day.

Some neighbourhoods, such as La Playita, have become notorious for crime. Aggressive paramilitary groups are to blame for this severe human rights crisis.

Young people under threat

Young people and children are suffering the most, facing the risk of getting involved with criminal groups. The violence has had a dramatic impact on children and their identity. They live in constant fear.

Since the end of last year, five people from La Playita have been killed and the community continues to face serious threats.

Little girls dance in the humanitarian space in Colombia

A safe space

Our partner, the Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace (CIJP), was called upon by the community to start protecting the people of Buenaventura.

This resulted in the creation of a ‘humanitarian space’ in the streets of Puerto Nayero in La Playita, on 13 April 2014.  This new space helps the community to safeguard their lives and culture.

CIJP started developing a campaign in the humanitarian space, raising awareness of the human rights violations against the community and advocating on their behalf.

The process of setting up a humanitarian space is not a simple one. It involved the submission of an application by our partner CIJP to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. Only after five months, in September 2014, did the Commission grant precautionary measures which aim to prevent irreparable harm to people, benefiting more than 300 families.

The decision by the Commission is symbolic, not only because it recognises the serious and urgent risk facing the communities by the presence of paramilitary groups, but also because it acknowledges that the Colombian state has not done enough to protect the population.

This is a major step in protecting the people of La Playita and ensuring Colombian authorities fulfill their human rights obligations.

Find out more

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